Gospel of Matthew 22:34-40
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’
Jesus tells us that loving God is foundational to everything else. This love is all encompassing. It is to involve all of my heart, my soul and my mind.
I hear this commandment as an invitation to explore my own identity. I ask myself, what captivates my heart at present? To me, my soul is my deepest knowing and my mind is the centre of my thoughts. Where is my focus? Do I feel truly centred in my being
Becoming quiet, still and spacious is a love response. Mary Ward practised regular eight day retreats all her life. While on retreat nearly 405 years ago, she wrote a letter to her spiritual director about an intense experience she had of God’s love.
The felicity of this estate (for as much as I can express) was a singular freedom from all that could make one adhere to earthly things, with an entire application, and apt disposition to all good works; something happened also discovering the freedom, that such a soul should have had to refer all to God.[i]
It seems that because of feeling so utterly loved by God in heart, soul and mind, she immediately felt a deep desire to share the freedom and love that she experienced. To this day, her ‘Just Soul’ experience has been shared by her followers.
Jesus invites us all into such an experience.
God loved us first.
Can we let ourselves be loved as Mary Ward did?
[i] Notes from Mary Ward’s Just Soul letter to Roger Lee SJ (St Omer) 1615 November 1